A pair of promising screenwriters from northern Ontario have earned themselves full-tuition bursaries to pursue their filmmaking passions at Toronto Film School.
Marty Wilson-Trudeau of Copper Cliff, Ontario, and Lindrena Newbery of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, were chosen as the winners of full-tuition bursaries to study screenwriting at Toronto Film School (TFS) from among 18 people who participated in a recent North Ontario Screen Writers Workshop.
Presented by TFS and Cultural Industries Ontario North (CION) over two Saturdays in March, the free online writing workshop was offered principally to BIPOC students in northern Ontario recruited through CION’s non-profit outreach network.
Wilson-Trudeau, a drama/art teacher, won the bursary on the merits of her short film script, LOST – a powerful story about three generations of Anishnaabe women and the shattering affect addiction has on their lives.
Toronto Film School’s Colin Aussant and Arthur Laduceur, who taught the workshop, both hailed the script as “brave” upon announcing Wilson-Trudeau as one of the bursary’s two winners.
“It really struck a chord. Your writing was very authentic, it was real, it was important, and, most importantly, your writing was brave,” Laduceaur raved in his script feedback to Wilson-Trudeau.
“I think, as Indigenous peoples, our stories need to be told, regardless if they’re historical or contemporary. You definitely have a voice and it’s an important voice, and I’m excited for you and I’m excited for the next steps in your journey.”
Wilson-Trudeau said the original story behind LOST was one she and her son, Phoenix, wrote together a couple of years ago. But it was over the course of the two-day North Ontario Screen Writers Workshop that she sculpted it into a bursary-winning screenplay.
“I don’t what to say, it’s been amazing,” she said of the workshop experience, during which participants were tasked with writing a short film following a day-long session on March 6 that included discussions around character development, dialogue writing, scene construction, and the classic Three-Act structure.
On the Wednesday following that initial Saturday sessions, Wilson-Trudeau, Newbery and their fellow participants were encouraged to take part in a consultation day, where they were invited to book Zoom meetings with Aussant and Laduceur to discuss their projects one-on-one.
Then, on the March 13 workshop session, participants proceeded to conduct industry-style table-reads of one another’s scripts, receiving feedback from the instructors and other participants, and polishing their scripts into tight portfolio pieces ready to be produced.
A newbie to the world of writing for the screen, Newbery said she found the whole learning process to be an especially enlightening one.
“It was a great course. I haven’t taken any screenwriting type of thing before, so it was definitely very cool to do,” said the Grade 12 French Immersion student and singer-songwriter from Sault Ste. Marie.
“I’m so happy I had the opportunity to be a part of the course. I feel like I learned a lot.”
Newbery, like Wilson-Trudeau, also walked away from the workshop with a 100 per cent bursary to continue her screenwriting journey with Toronto Film School. Her winning short script, entitled Tuesday Flowers, is about a talented young singer-songwriter who finds a mysterious phone number left in her guitar case after a gig, and the charismatic barista who gives her the courage to make a call that will change her life.
Aussant and Laduceur praised Newbery’s piece for the originality of its voice, and its “fresh and relevant” characters.
“We were just impressed with you and your script right from the beginning. We think you have an original voice and just really good instincts,” Aussant told Newbery, noting that he and Laduceur were also impressed with how she reacted to feedback and incorporated some of those suggestions into her rewrites.
“We like how you handled yourself that first day and the following Saturday. And, bottom line, we just loved your story. We absolutely loved your story.”
Also on-hand during Wilson-Trudeau and Newbery’s bursary announcements was CION’s Film Programs & Reporting Supervisor, Rob Riselli, who offered his congratulations to both award recipients.
“It’s one of our roles to help develop northern talent and folks like yourselves,” he told them, noting that, as a non-profit cultural organization, CION is dedicated to fostering and promoting the film, television, and creative media industries in Northern Ontario, as well as providing educational programming to cultivate the advancement of Northern Ontario’s emerging talent.
“CION will be here with you the rest of the way to help you develop not only this script – because we want you to shoot this thing in Northern Ontario – but future projects, too.”
That last bit of news was warmly welcomed by Wilson-Trudeau, who admitted she’s excited to learn more about screenwriting at Toronto Film School and with CION’s support, because she has plenty more stories beyondLOST that she wants to share with the world.
“I have about 10 of them. All I do is write. I even have one that I want Johnny Depp to be in,” she laughed.
“I’m flabbergasted right now. Thank you so much. I’m so excited!”
Marty Wilson-Trudeau is a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation, which is located on Manitoulin Island. She lives and works in Sudbury, where she is a drama/art teacher at St. Charles College. Wilson-Trudeau is a mother to two wonderful boys and a fur mom to a household of animals. She has always loved to write everything from short stories, to fiction, to scripts.
Lindrena Newbery is a Grade 12 French Immersion student from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Some of her highlights while at school have been playing saxophone in the school band, taking electronic music and sharpening her storytelling skills in writer’s craft. She also participated in Envirothon for four years, competing in local environmental competitions. Musical theatre has also played a significant part in school life. Productions include Mamma Mia and Willy Wonka.
Outside of school, Lindrena is a singer-songwriter, who hopes to finish recording her material soon. She plays various instruments, including guitar and piano. She enjoys performing at local cafés and events. Her passion for social justice led her to take a dual credit course with Algoma University in social justice and equity in the summer of 2020. Lindrena also enjoys spending time outside, hiking and kayaking along Lake Superior, always with her camera ready to capture the beautiful scenery of Northern Ontario.
She is currently employed at Kumon, where she helps students improve their math and reading skills. Prior to COVID-19 restrictions, Lindrena worked as a sound and lighting technician for various concerts and events. She is excited to explore Toronto and looks forward to her time at Toronto Film School.